( Hey friends! a shout out to the person (s) from Brazil who read my posts each week. Thank you! )
Last month,I had the pleasure of going to a listening party with my drummer friend, Paul Madore, and his son Jason. They treated me to amazing recordings of 78’s… I was taken by the sheer musicianship of the players; and contrasted that to how today, recording engineers can ” cut and paste”, use auto tune,and a plethora of devices to ” fix” the sound. In those days, musicians came together, and pulled it off, most likely in one or two takes. This is whether it was ” classical” or “early jazz” or “popular”. Paul played one record, a goofy, but tight version of a classic. ( Think Spike Jone, with more sophistication). He said ” think 3rd stream” .
It was a clever arrangement of ” the blue Danube waltz”. I went home, my head full of sound, and thought about “3rd stream”. I slept on it.
From my limited perspective,I remember Gunther Schuller wanting to meld the strongest element of ” jazz” and ” classical”, into a new kind of music. Looking on line, I read a bit about the aesthetic of what 3rd stream is not… not jazz played on orchestral instruments, not jazz players playing in fugue, etc. So what is 3rd stream?
At a basic level, I bristle at being called a ” jazz” musician. I dislike the distinction between ” serious” and popular music, folkloric and all. But I call myself a jazz musician, because it is closest to what I do. But really, I have identified the aesthetic of the music of my community, myself. We are 9th stream.
What is 9th stream music?
We live in an age of volumes of information. While it is fascinating to have access to all this, a musician can fall into the abyss of mindless ” cut and paste”, and forget where we came from.
Without getting too far into numerology, I have discovered some aspects. I love waltzes, 6/8 time signatures. Trios, sextets, nonets are great groups. There are probably 9 significant “trends” in my music…( Do I have to spoil your appetite by naming the ingredients?) Okay, here are main elements for me .
1) I piano music.. Satie, etc. 2) “Free” 60’s jazz 3) Art Song 3) Waltzes 4) Tango, new and old. 5)Pop music of my youth .. and Soul, funk, 6)Brazilean,Cuban jazz/ pop 7) “Radio Pocho”… new latino alt rock + 8) Asian/Irish/Modal 9)Orchestral/ electronic.
As of this moment, these are my 9 streams. Tomorrow, it might be classified differently .
And, like most musical people I hang with, I have about 9 musical groups I play with. Nine is the largest single digit, a multiple of three, the month of September, a signal of completion, of integration. In SGI Buddhsim, we talk about the 9th level of consciousness, the purest part of a human’s life, which is deeper than our karma storage.
9 is a good number. Speaking of which, it IS September, and I am back teaching, grade 3. I have been able to hang on to my musicality, and finished writing a song yesterday… ” the Children of Neptune”. It’ supposed to be a bossa/soul thing, Nathan Hanson helped me notate the first phrases of the melody on Friday, and i finished it yesterday. Yeah!
9th stream or not, I have a lessons to do. 8 and 9 year olds to teach.